Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited Establishes Non-for-Profit Grocery Store in Roebourne, WA

Iermugadu Store Maya.

Iermugadu Store Maya. Courtesy of NYFL, 2022.

In the Western Pilbara town of Roebourne, WA, there has been limited access to groceries for two years! However, this February Garlbagu, the business arm of the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited (NYFL), has addressed this food insecurity by reopening the Roebourne General Store as a ‘social supermarket’ model called Foundation Food. The general store has been renamed Iermugadu Store Maya (NYFL, 2022).

Since the closing of the Roebourne General Store in 2019, residents of the North West’s oldest town Roebourne have had to drive 10km to Wickham or 30km to Karratha’s larger supermarkets, just to buy groceries. The closure was a result of high transport costs, and the small population not being able to afford the rising cost of goods (NIT, 2022).

This innovative ‘social supermarket’ model offers heavily discounted and easily accessible basic food items to those in the Roebourne community with poor financial literacy, monthly pay cycles and isolated families. The Foundation Food project also services Roebourne’s outlying communities of Cheeditha, Ngurrawaana, Mingullatharndo and Weymul (NYFL, 2022).

Ieramugadu Store Maya storefront 2021.

Ieramugadu Store Maya storefront 2021. Courtesy of Ieramugadu Store Maya, 2021.

Garlbagu’s board member Kevin Guiness (2022) reported to the National Indigenous Times (NIT) that the Foundation Food project has brought life back to Roebourne’s town centre:

“Quite a few people in Roebourne, especially our Elders, don’t have a car or a license so travelling to Karratha or Wickham to access basic food items was a major barrier for many in our community.

We needed to address this issue for the health and wellbeing of our community.”

Roebourne town in Pilbara, WA.

Roebourne town in Pilbara, WA. Courtesy of Ieramugadu Store Maya, 2021.

Andrew Lobb (2022) vice president of the Woodside North West Shelf Project said to NIT that Woodside was pleased to have helped fund the project:

“This was a significant undertaking and we congratulate the NYFL and the Garlbagu Board for bringing the project to fruition.

We look forward to seeing Foundation Food continuing to provide this vital service to the Roebourne community for years to come.”

Novo Resources, the City of Karratha, Sodexo, Horizon Power and The Brindle Group also contributed to this community led solution to food security (NIT, 2022).

The Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi Foundation reported that this non-profit supermarket model has the potential to be replicated in other small North Western towns where there is limited access to quality, affordable food.

At Yarn, we are passionate about supporting and spreading awareness to the wider Australian community about Indigenous non-for-profits and social enterprises that are committed to revitalising and sustaining Indigenous language, culture, art and community. So, as NYFL’s Foundation Food project continues to expand, we wish them every success as they continue to provide community with this service for years to come!

If you want to find out more about Iermugadu Store Maya’s services, visit their Facebook page here.